After it’s inception in 2001, the Hyderabad-based architecture firm, NA Architects has become one of the most prominent and revered practice. Their attention to detail, affinity towards ecological planning and the knack for creating architecture that perfectly suits needs of clients has enabled them to create diverse and exceptional designs. The founders, Nirooop Reddy tells us about co-founder Rupana Reddy, about the journey and about his thoughts on architecture.
1. How did NA Architects come into being? How was the journey so far?
During my high school, I would always be intrigued by how buildings could affect the way we live, our mood and behavior and kept talking about this to friends and family and the fact that we spend most of our lives in buildings – through architecture I thought we can influence the way people live their lives for the better.
During my first job as an Architect assistant, I realised the importance and potential of a holistic architectural and design service. Collectively, my partner in life and in profession Rupana and I dreamt of establishing a firm that provides state of the art, turnkey architectural, structural and Interior Design services under one roof. Hyderabad had space to accommodate and welcome new ideas and concepts in architecture and interior design. Hence we made the plunge and branched out with our own practice in 2003.
2. You have handled projects of very diverse nature; right from residences, offices to educational institutes and hospitals. As an architect what kind of challenges did you face when designing such a variety of projects?
Being an Architect is a really interesting job. It’s rare that you do the exact same thing week to week, especially as you get more experience. It’s a creative and challenging job. There is some actual design involved, like making a building look nice, but there are so many other challenges, such as meeting a client’s needs and wishes while also meeting building and accessibility codes and their budget and schedule. It’s making all the required rooms fit into an existing building or area of a building.
Clients’ needs and priorities are evolving and changing over the course of the project timeline. Sometimes it is a challenge to make them visualise your concept and how it will shape up in the end. They have a hard time deciding one way or the other, then there are times that you think, only if the clients understand why something could not be ready when they snap their fingers. But all these challenges put that extra thrill when you finally turn the vision into reality, and positively affect their living/working space.
3. Can you explain to us about what is your design philosophy? Also, you have won quite a lot of regional as well as national awards. Do you think your design philosophy was a vital factor there? What other factors have been proved to be vital?
Personally, for me, design marks out a vision for what can be; the act of Designing is to move with intent to close the gap between existing conditions and that vision. Be it Interior or Architecture, to me Good Design is an ongoing process of decisions and strategies that enable innovation and create effectively-designed spaces and create environments that enhance functionality and quality of life.
As a firm, our design philosophy is about letting the Principles of Sound Design guide us to bring together light, space, materials, form and function, environment and blending them with the Client’s design preferences and timelines. Our job is about creating, enabling myself and our team to bring that harmony in, work within the given limitations, and come up with a comprehensive design solution that satisfies and excites the client from a visual, functional, creative and budgetary aspect as well. We seek to link design, creativity, innovation, technology, management and customers to provide advantage and value across economic, social, cultural, and environmental factors.
We have been very fortunate to have some amazing clients, who worked with us, believed in us and had trust in our vision and concepts. I am 100% sure that all the awards that we won belong rightfully to our clients and to our execution teams. We strongly believe that our awards are the outcome of our clients’ belief and trust in us, a testament to our clients’ vision, our teams’ efforts and finally an acknowledgement of our design philosophy and work ethic. We are also very cognizant of the fact that these awards bring us a higher level of responsibility to keep doing good work and that motivates us to push the envelope a little further. And this is a constructive cycle.
4. You try to achieve sustainability and eco-friendly design through innovative and contemporary designing. Do you also take into consideration some traditional methods for the same that were designed keeping in mind the local conditions? Do you think they might be more useful?
Yes, local conditions, the influence of art culture, history, environment and climate are always core considerations while designing a project. Mahatma Gandhi – The Father of Nation (India) once said the ideal house should be built with materials and skills gathered from within the five-mile radius of the site. But in today’s world where people seemed to be charged with economic motion and governed by newer levels of commercialization and globalisation, the constructing of the ideal house as said by Gandhi seems hard to come by.
At Niroop Architects, to the extent possible and practical, we are embracing the idea of Vernacular architecture, an architectural style that is designed based on local needs, availability of construction materials and reflecting local traditions. We would like to ensure that our concepts reflect the environmental, cultural, technological, economic, and historical context in which it exists. While often difficult to reconcile with regulatory and popular demands of the five factors mentioned, this kind of architecture still plays a role our design decisions.
When our clients are prioritising the stylistic elements, our design will intentionally incorporate elements for aesthetic purposes which go beyond a building’s functional requirements.
5 . NA Architects have done some of the most prominent projects Hyderabad and you have been doing it for over a decade now. Hyderabad has grown exponentially within that same period. Have there been any changes in the architectural trends?
Not just Hyderabad, but across the country, earlier architecture was considered as providing exterior decoration and was just thought of as a passing stage. But the short span of 20 years of globalisation seems to have had a lasting impact on our profession. There is a growing awareness of ecology and environment which has influenced architecture in India during recent times. Climate responsive architecture has long been a feature of India’s architecture but with advances in technology, and fast changing client preferences and focus on style is pushing it to the back burner.
The increase in land values and the demand for floor space is without question responsible for putting Architecture on the fast track of change. The people’s perceptions of style have been a major factor in accelerating this change.
6. You have a strong emphasis on a thorough design process. But in Indian real estate industry, an architect rarely gets sufficient time to spend it on design. So how do you deal with it?
We at Niroop Architects have recently begun to embrace a leading role in the design-build approach, Architect-led design–build (ALDB) process. Through the ALDB projects, we ensure interdisciplinary teams and building trades professionals collaborate in an agile management process, where design strategy and construction expertise are seamlessly integrated thereby delivering high fidelity between project timelines and outcomes.
This process allows clients the opportunity to participate with full transparency throughout its timeline. Over the arc of a building project, our strategic leadership role remains constant while driving the and prioritising client’s requirements (functional, aesthetic, budget, schedule) centrally from a single point of contact:
1. Drafting documentation for that design that invites and facilitates continuous client-construction team feedback
2. Refining progressive iterations of design and execution until an optimal outcome, appropriate to the project goals, emerges.
3. Preparing actionable, legible drawing sets that reflect construction-ready and trade-specific details for each trade to refer to, under architect’s supervision, on-site and publishing these at the appropriate time in the process of construction also saves us lots of time.
As our interview comes to an end, we can’t help but feel irrefutable respect for this architect. Afterall, he’s an architect who focuses on enriching lives by his architecture as well as his professionalism.